Journey: Creating an Emotional Connection Between Players and Gaming

April 9, 2012

5:00 pm

Last month ThatGameCompany, a small video games publisher that is known for developing creative games that evoke emotional experiences, released its latest installment, Journey. This game is part of a new genre of video games focusing primarily on creating an emotional connection between the player and the game, rather than just creating an action-adventure experience.

In Journey, you control a traveler in a desert-style environment that is full of dunes and ruins.  Your main goal is to walk your traveler towards a shining mountain in the distance.  Your character does not show any type of gender, race or other individual characteristics, so each player can interpret their character in their own way. Visuals are stunning, and the music is just beautiful. The atmosphere creates a feeling of confusion, loneliness and uncertainty; however, the game incorporates enough elements to guide you through the game very easily.

Your character is equipped with a special type of clothing that, with the help of other creatures or elements made of the same fabric, allows actions such as jumping and flying. It is also possible to communicate with other creatures using sounds, which blend perfectly with the music in  the background. Through your journey you will also encounter other players that are randomly selected online by the game.  They are very similar to your character, so you really do not know who is behind other travelers. You can also communicate with other players, and you have the option to continue on your way by yourself or with a companion.

The interaction with the environment, other creatures and other players successfully emphasizes two main emotions: loneliness and companionship. This game is relatively short, just two or three hours in total, but it has a high replayability value. Journey is available for Play Station 3 for $15.

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Salvador Garcia Martinez is currently collaborating as a researcher at the Technoculture, Art, and Games research centre; he is also a doctoral student in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal. He has professional experience as a software developer, web designer, and instructional designer. You can connect with him on linkedIn or his personal website or follow him on Twitter @salgarciam.

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